To be successful in new markets, businesses need to be flexible and sometimes change the way they operate in order to realise their full potential. Many have called for organisations to become ‘agile’. The ‘agile organisation’, also known as ‘the entrepreneurial organisation’ is typified by a high speed of response to change and, where necessary, customised customer offerings. This is particularly eminent in the current economic climate but has been happening for decades. We’ve all seen examples of this; AOL started off as a videogame on demand service, Tiffany & Co (the high end jeweller) originally sold paper, and Twitter started as a podcast delivery service! When I reflect on these massive feats, it makes me wonder how these companies managed the change into new ways of operating so well.
We’ve all heard that most change programmes fail. As Kotter famously quoted, ‘…traditionally only 30% of change programmes succeed.’ Reading this got me thinking on my own work. Through my recent work on a public sector organisation design project, I realised how important it is to integrate design work with change management.
Creating an organisation design is a bit of a balancing act. On one side it’s a top down, academic and design focused approach and on the other it’s bottom up, practical and about people. What got me thinking though is that really good design work from the top that aligns business operations with its strategic drivers, is wasted without good management the people change from the bottom. It won’t matter how great the organisation design is – it will never change the business.
With all of this in mind, I thought I would share my four top tips to make sure that great organisation design is successfully rolled out across businesses:
1. Understanding the change impacts has to be an iterative process. Don’t expect to understand the full people impacts of change until the entire design is complete. That being said, don’t leave it until the full design is finalised before considering the change impacts!
2. Embed change within the business. Empowering a network of change champions across different functions or areas is a powerful way of doing this. This should include regular touch points with this community of skilled individuals, through a two way relationship.
3. Ensure communication is planned and aligned with the change approach from the start. Innovation here is a great way to get attention; for instance this could include the use of blogs, videos, and online communities and tools.
4. Ensure a compelling story is developed to support the rationale for change and consistently referred to throughout the change.
To summarise, the opportunity for an integrated approach to designing a solution and managing business change can lead to programme success- alongside engagement, stakeholder buy-in and vision alignment.